Reviewed by Amanda Gazzard
Dust of your witch’s brooms and don your scariest mask as Halloween has arrived at Audley End Miniature Railway.
We arrived to be greeted by a friendly ghost in the car park wearing a suit and top hat and were guided to where we collected our tickets.
Both of my children were given fabric decorated trick or treat bags which contained a pencil and an A4 piece of paper of things to spot while on the train.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side as it was wet, but this did not dampen any of our fears and we headed straight to the marquee. We decided to give the craft making a go first and a very helpful witch explained what the children would be making and showed them what it would look like at the end. We were then informed we could sit anywhere on the selected tables where there were lots of various coloured felt tip pens for the colouring in. Once their master pieces were finished, they then returned to the helpful witch who put the finishing touches (hot glue gun was required for this part) and voila, there spooky scene was finished. We then queued up for the free face paint. This was the only time we ever really had to queue and in fairness it only took about 10 minutes to wait. Each child was offered a choice of a spooky design which was to be painted on one cheek.
After stopping to take a spooky picture at the photo board we decided to have a drink in the main section of the marquee. There were lots of tables and chairs and this was the busiest we saw it out of our time at Audley End. You could purchase a selection of hot and cold food and also hot and cold drinks. You are allowed to take your own food and drink in which is a huge bonus and if the weather had been dryer there are lots of picnic tables outside you could choose to sit at. After our little pitstop, we then made our way to the other end of the marquee where there was a story corner where a spooky tale was told, and your little ones can even try out their best Thriller moves with the disco witch (the storytelling and workshops run on the hour, every hour from 11am to 4pm).
Our ticket for the haunted Halloween express meant we had an hours boarding slot. Our ticket allowed us to board onto a train within the Hourly Boarding Slot specified when we selected our time slot in advance. You can choose when purchasing your ticket to purchase the ticket for a specific time slot. These tickets are slightly more expensive but only by £2 each person. This also seats you in the centre of the train which gives you a better viewing position when you meet the three witches and dancing pumpkins deep in the woods at their cobweb home. Here you will witness them cast a spell into their cauldrons and then be treated to a dancing display of pumpkins, yes you got it dancing pumpkins! Oh, and make sure your little monsters have their trick and treat bags at the ready. The 1.5-mile track winds its way through woodland, with some added spooky attractions along the route (don’t forget to help your little ones tick off the various things they needed to spot whilst on the train).
Audley End does encourage young and old alike to dress for the occasion. It was fantastic to see most of the little ones dressed to scare and even some of the adults joined in on the fun.
Even though this was a Halloween event there is nothing that spine tingly scary that will actually make your little ones scream with fear as its suitable for the smallest of critters.
The toilets are were clean and tidy even on a wet and windy day.
Audley End is ideal for children from toddler age to around 6 years of age. This is only because they cater for the younger audience more than an older child.
All areas were accessible for wheelchairs and buggies apart from the trains, but buggies could be safely stored whilst on the train. Unfortunately, due to the trains being miniature they do not cater for wheelchairs.
Included in the ticket price:
Train Ride through the woods to visit the witches, craft making, face painting, storytelling, workshops and a gift for every child (gifts for 0-24 months can be purchased on the day for £2).
Ticket Price: £12-£14 per person, 0-24 Months go free.
Booking is required in advance and will not be available to purchase on the day.
There is a main car park and an overflow car park a short 5 minute walk away, both of which are free to park.
This is a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon and your little monsters and or witches will have a spookily brilliant time. For what it costs I feel its great value for money and well worth a visit. Don’t be left disappointed and book today. The Halloween Special is open until the 3rd November.
Tickets cost from £12 to £14 per person
For more information or to book tickets visit www.audley-end-railway.co.uk.
Audley End Miniature Railway, Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JB